I have a draft going updating you all on how school is going, what it’s like to switch from a humanities field to a much more science-heavy field at the PhD stage of career development, and how I’ve been spending my time these past few months, but at the moment I’m preoccupied by the events of this morning.
I was at my friend’s house, where we do a childcare share– Rachel or I have Darwin and my friend’s son, N, 3 mornings a week, and my friend has the two babies and her preschool-age daughter in the afternoons on the same days. It was a nice morning, wet but not actively raining, and there was even some sun! So I decided to take the kiddos for a walk to enjoy the day before it inevitably started to rain again. They both love walks, and when I asked if they wanted to go out, they were both excited and ran for their jackets. We got coats and shoes on, and went out to the porch to put N in the stroller before I put Darwin in the Ergo. I bumped the stroller down the steps and put N in it. I was about to buckle him in when I turned around just in time to see Darwin tumble face first down three steps onto the sidewalk below.
My heart stopped. It was the worst feeling I’ve had since becoming a mother. I couldn’t tell whether she was hurt badly but images of emergency rooms, concussions, and stitches were flashing through my mind, and the feeling was that I was unable to keep my baby safe. I picked her up from the concrete where she lay wailing, and saw her face was covered with blood. I was so scared. I held her close in one arm while maneuvering N back out of the stroller with the other and ran back inside. N was a doll– I put him down once we were inside and he followed me around, worried but calm, as I grabbed a wet paper towel to start the process of finding the source of the bleeding. I called Rachel at work to let her know I needed her ASAP, and went back to dabbing at Darwin’s face. I was finally able to discern that she had a bloody nose, but did not appear to even have bumps or bruises anywhere else. (We later found a bruise on her hand, where she must have tried to catch herself, but the overall damage was surprisingly minimal). She continued crying while clinging to me until Rachel showed up. I cried too, probably as much as she did when all was said and done. Rachel was able to calm her down by nursing, but I was so shaken by the experience that I couldn’t get control of myself for a while longer.
I called the pediatrician and spoke to the nurse on call who said it sounded like she was fine but told us what to look for in case of concussion. When it was clear that there was no immediate need for urgent care or the emergency room, Rachel went back to work. The babies didn’t even fuss when she left like they usually do. We read books and cuddled and after lunch Darwin crawled into my lap and fell asleep in my arms. I held her that way for 40 minutes until Rachel came back for a midday nurse before transitioning to the afternoon with our friend. Darwin seemed to need the extra cuddles, and I know I did. Just feeling her there, safe and solid in my arms made me feel so much better.
By all reports, she had an excellent afternoon, and when Rachel brought her home this evening, Rachel went off to work in the bedroom while Darwin and I made dinner, danced around to silly pop music, and generally had a good time. She’s such an amazing, resilient kid who is so full of life. I am so lucky to have her in mine! And the sense of relief that comes with knowing that your sweet baby could have ended up in the hospital but got away with just a bloody nose is something miraculous.
I know this is just the beginning, and that in the scheme of things it’s probably not that bad, but it felt so awful, like I couldn’t keep my girl safe. Like I was being negligent or a bad mom. But she’s ok, and I get another chance. I know it’ll end up being another chance to screw up, because it’s inevitable. She’s just a little thing, still learning about things like gravity and why we go down the stairs backwards until we have longer legs, and I’m a first time mom who doesn’t even know all the things she doesn’t know. I realize it’s going to be a bumpy ride. I’m just glad that all in all, this bump was pretty minor.